User Onboarding: Keep your users with a good design

Read about how good design can help in the user onboarding process and keep them on a website wanting more. These essential tips can improve user experience and guide them to fulfill website goal.

Whatever your story is about, a user may not have a chance to find out if he is not introduced properly. In today’s article we will talk about what is user onboarding, why is important and how to use it correctly in order to have positive feedback from potential users.

What is User Onboarding?

In theory, user onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product. In other words, users need to be introduced with the product correctly, that will give answers to all their questions about it. Other people say that is just a good tour to new users.

But, in order to effectively apply user onboarding principles, we need a lot more than a good product tour, since most users just skip to the end and don’t even read them. Great user onboarding is a part of a perfect UX. We need the right content at the right time.

User Experience (UX) is all about creating a perfect and enjoyable experience for the products target audience. Which means User Onboarding is a part of it, or better say the beginning of it since it should be active the moment a new user lands on a product. That is why we need to think about new users while we are in the UX design process. We need to think about how we’re going to onboard users to each feature as we’re developing, designing and implementing it.

Don’t plan user onboarding last.

User onboarding can be also a good way to see who your users are, what they like and dislike, and what they want out of your product. Detecting that users aren’t taking the critical steps towards your product, can help you plan a follow-up action that can be automatically triggered. Like having a chatbot that will guide them through the product or tooltips as their onboarding experience.

How does it work?

Now that we solve the mystery of what is user onboarding, let’s see how it actually works. Many websites, apps, of big companies use the same approach. They all start with collecting the information about the user. Some ask for too many information, but their goal is to know who you are, what you like and what you want to do with it. That way they can present to you the most relevant things according to your interests, all based on the information provided.

Factors Influencing a good User Onboarding

There is a number of factors influencing a good user onboarding experience. Lets’ review the ones that are directly connected to this process.


Most companies have tooltips to show you around and help you understand the most essential things about their product. Tooltips can be used in 3 different ways:

  1. Readable pop-up
  2. Animated pop-up
  3. Video pop-up

The readable pop-up is the least engaging tooltip since most people consider it very boring and will just skip to the end without even reading it.

Animated pop-up is illustrated and animated pop-up with a short text, indicating what that tool does when pressed. It can be very engaging and can show a lot of information with minimal content.

Video pop-up is the most engaging tooltip since can explain exactly what that tool does. The main key here is keeping the video short, and saying everything users need to know in a few seconds.

Tooltips can be good since they point out important UI elements that help users get more value out of the tool. These tips can ensure that users will know how to use that UI element, which can result in higher user engagement rates.


More and more popular things lately are chatbots. Some people find them annoying, but they can be very helpful if done right.

Chatbots are here to help with many things like, setting a reminder, help you out in learning new things about a product, showing if someone is not available when messaging, keeping visitors records, and much more.

They help to walk through new users through a product. This interactive approach drives users to take meaningful action while educating them on how to use the product.

Credit to Virgil Pana

Information Gathering

The first action for most products is to personalize your interest. This is key for all platforms that have content-related value propositions ( Twitter, Pinterest, Netflix, etc.). At this stage, users are asked for their personal information and interest. The next step is selecting categories to follow. That way users will have personalized interests to view. People are conditioned to dislike this part, leaving it unfinished. Since it is not good for UX to force people to do it anyway, a better option is saving it for later, give people a choice.

The progress bar is a good thing to have at this point since it helps set a user’s expectations of effort to complete the onboarding process. As users watch their progress move along, they may feel more committed to driving it to completion. Progress bars take advantage of the Goal Gradient Effect, which suggests that people move towards a goal, their efforts increase.

Credit to Duolingo

Find Contacts

Social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc.) offer to merge your phone contacts with your account and find that people on their network, which is another good example of the user onboarding experience.

Credit to Instagram

There are many different approaches to user onboarding experience, and every company does it specifically for their product, which depends on what is about and who is their target audience.

It is important that onboarding experience to be good since that is one of the ways to help new users learn fast about your product and to return again.

Onboarding should make the user feel like he is guided smoothly through the product and in the case where the guidance isn’t very apparent, the user should not have to struggle to figure things out on their own. But the less need product has for guidance the better the product.

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